Meola’s MLS GK Power Rankings: Rimando still on top

USA centurion Tony Meola brings you the second edition of his MLS goalkeeper rankings.
The Euro Cup has dominated headlines this June, but there has been plenty of action stateside, as MLS competition has reached the midpoint of its regular season.  As I did last month, I’m shining the spotlight on some of the top guys in goal, which will ultimately culminate with the MLS selecting the 2012 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year this November.

1. Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake (1)

Nick Rimando returned from the break and quickly secured his fifth shutout of the season against Chivas in a decisive 3-0 result. Salt Lake has since given up three-consecutive losses, including a pair at home. Rimando’s efforts this season, including nine wins and a slim 1.19 goals allowed average, have earned him a pass for a shortened month of play, but we’ll see if he and his team can regain form to keep the competition in the shadows.

2. Ryan Meara, New York Red Bulls (2)

Before the Red Bulls picked up Ryan Meara with the 31st overall pick, the rookie took the pitch only two miles away from his current club stadium as a member of the Jersey Express. Meara and team certainly feel at home at Red Bull Arena this season, remaining only one of two squads (Houston) that are undefeated while defending home turf.  The Red Bulls most recently defeated Eastern Conference leader D.C. United with a 3-2 effort to keep the streak alive.

3. Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City (3)

Stats don’t always tell the full story, but Jimmy Nielsen is the stat king this year. Among keepers with at least 10 starts, Nielsen leads or co-leads the league in shutouts (6), goals against average (1.00) and – most importantly – wins (9). June has provided some ups and downs for Nielsen.  Coming back from the break, he took Man of the Match honors with a shutout performance against Toronto FC, only to fall 4-0 against Philadelphia a few matches later, including a first-minute strike from Jack McInerney.

4. Andy Gruenebaum, Columbus Crew (5)

Andy Gruenebaum has as many shutouts as his team has wins (six). The Crew sit toward the bottom of the table in goals per game, but Gruenebaum’s efforts in net have played big in keeping Columbus afloat in the tables. Perfect example – Gruenebaum recently received Man of the Match honors against New England, unfortunately in a 0-0 draw. Nothing frustrates a goalkeeper more than a lack of help in the score sheets. On top of the six shutouts, Gruenebaum is level with Nielsen in goals against average (1.00), as well as second in total saves (75).

5. Jon Busch, San Jose Earthquakes (NR)

Much of San Jose’s success is rightfully credited to the Earthquake’s league-leading 2.06 goals per match, but Jon Busch has provided a steady presence when the big save needed to be made. After serving a recent suspension, Busch out-dueled RSL’s Rimando in a narrow 2-1 win to take control of the Western standings. Just this past weekend, however, Busch suffered an eye injury that may keep him out of net. Fortunately for San Jose, the goals keep coming, and backup David Bingham has done a good job in the limited minutes he’s seen this year.

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